Gail’s Pumpkin Patch opens with great expectations of another wonderful year for visitors

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[September 02, 2017]  Friday was a clear, cool, breezy day with bright sunshine and lofty clouds. If felt like fall, and at Gail’s Pumpkin Patch in rural Beason, it looked like fall. The patch officially opened at noon on Friday and will be open daily from now until October 31st.

This year the seasonal agri-tourist attraction has many of the same things that visitors have grown to love, and also a few new offerings.

Owners Gail and Dave Sasse are excited about the season ahead. It has been a very good year for pumpkins according to Dave, so there is an abundant crop in the patch. Gail noted that the patch this year is an expansive eight acres, the largest patch they have ever had, and Dave added there are about 60 varieties in the field, including a few new ones.

Gail talked about one new variety, a pumpkin that is a little more elongated, taller than it is large around. She said that folks have said they wanted pumpkins that are taller for particular carving designs they want to work on, so Gail’s have done what they can to accommodate.

The larger field this year may be due in part to a new planting method the couple tried out this year, and found it worked quite well. Using a four-row planter typical for planting corn and soybeans, the fields were planted using a special “pumpkin plate,” and by ‘plugging” every other row. That made for a two row planter to cover an eight acre field. David said it was a lot quicker than their old method that included manually dropping seeds one-at-a-time into the seeder as they went through the field.

The patch this year has been moved a bit, and is not readily visible from the blacktop road that runs past the retail building and family farm. But it is still within easy walking distance for those who want to go to the patch and select their own pumpkin.

In addition to the pumpkins and gourds raised at the farm, the ornamental corn has been harvested, gathered into nice bundles, tied with twine and is ready for sale.

Once again, the popcorn wagon will be up and running. The wagon will provide a ride to the popcorn field where shoppers can do their own picking. Or, there is already picked popcorn on sale at the retail shed.

The retail location will also offer mums from Mariah’s Mums near Clinton, and many food offerings.

The apples sold at the patch are grown on the Sasse farm. Sasse’s honey is harvested from another nearby family farm. In addition to the apple and pumpkin donuts and other sweets, there are large bags of kettle corn, and apple cider slushies, apple or pumpkin sippers, and Carmel Apple Sundaes for sale.

Some items are not produced at the farm, but are local or Illinois products. From nearby, the Lincoln’s Secret Sauce is the special recipe mustard based barbecue sauce created and marketed by Kevin Bateman. There’s also a selection of Nuthatch Hill BBQ meat rubs for sale at the patch.

Dave Sasse explained that the cider is not made locally, but it is an Illinois product, coming from an orchard and cider mill in Effingham. The retail store continues to also offer apple butter, pumpkin butter, jams and preservers that are Amish made products, purchased from Illinois Amish communities.

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While the cider is from another location, the apples on sale are grown at Sasse’s. Dave said his mom is the apple minder. He gathers the apples and brings them to the washer, then his mom checks them and bags them up for sale in the store. Gail said they have great eating varieties, so be sure to check them out.

For children coming to the patch on return visits, they can expect to find all their favorite things. The ‘pumpkin’ checkers and tic-tac-toe are set up and ready to go, the barrel train is set up and waiting for riders. And one of the newer activities, a trike course, is ready; trikes are waiting patiently for riders. The black pipe maze is set up, as is the wooden steer for lasso practice.

The animals are also ready for company. Brownie the rabbit is set up in a cool shady spot. The goat tower is occupied with two cut goats. There is a beautiful rooster and hen; and this year, more kittens than ever!

Expect to be greeted by Pumpkin, the orange and white fully grown cat, but then be sure to look for the all black kitty that likes to lurk about on the retail shelves. Outside, watch out for the kittens! There are five this year, each one cuter than the last, and all very curious about the onset of visitors to the farm.

For grown-ups, be sure to check out the many fall and Halloween themed decorations for sale. From indoor centerpieces to knick-knacks, to outdoor wreaths and scarecrows, Gail’s has a large offering of seasonal décor.

Be sure to commemorate the day with a Gail’s Pumpkin Patch Tee shirt, and while you’re there already, check out the selection of Halloween costumes for kids, as well as coloring books and other neat kid’s items.

Gail and David are excited about the new season at the patch and looking forward to seeing lots of old friends return for fun and games, and are also hopeful that there will be new people who will discover and enjoy the patch for the very first time.

The Patch is also planning a fall farm day again this season. That will be held on September 10th. Gail said they will offer extra activities for kids, will have food, and for the first time, this year they will offer live music. Nuthatch Hill will have lunch available and there are plenty of picnic tables for families to grab a good meal, sit and relax, then take advantage of some of the ready-made foods in the retail store for dessert.

The live music will be Jeff Cordes from Lincoln. Gail said they heard Jeff perform at the Mill on Route 66 and really liked his music, so they asked him to come out for their special day, and were excited when he said yes.

All in all, the patch is going to be a great place for a family get away. With this being Labor Day weekend, it would be a good time to visit the patch, enjoy the many aspects of it, and then plan a return visit on the 10th.

Gail’s Pumpkin Patch is located just nine miles from Lincoln north of Illinois Route 10 between Lincoln and Clinton at 1709 2000th Avenue, Beason, IL. The patch will be open seven days a week for the next two months. Hours will be noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. For more information call 217-447-3409, visit on the web www.gails or email at gail@gails

[Nila Smith]

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